In 2009 I was laid off. I was thrilled to be able to do something different. During my personal journey and self-discovery to pick a new career, I read that people usually reinvent themselves every 7 years. I took that to heart and re-invented myself – insurance professional to farmer! Yes, a drastic change in career paths, but I noticed so many other changes: lower stress job, loving work instead of dreading it, no high heels or business suits, eating incredible food that I grew myself instead of fast food in the car in between appointments, less income but I needed so much less. I also stopped defining success by my job title, bank account and credit score. I started measuring my success by how many smiles I created, what new things I learned each day, and how often I noticed the many blessing I had. I stopped thinking things couldn’t be accomplished unless I directed every step, to being surprised by all the amazing things that were happening because I asked for them. They weren’t just coincidences; synchronicity was starting for me.
During this reinvention I attended Michigan State’s Organic Farmer Training Program. It confirmed that I wanted to be a farmer. As part of the program we had to create/present something to our cohort that shared something about us as individuals. It could be anything – a song, a poem, a dance, a story. I decided to make a quilted wall hanging to tell my story. Follow it counterclockwise, starting with Spring.
I pulled this out last year and noticed that my FALL items that I had wanted when I created this in 2010 had come true just 2 years later. I wanted a fulling life and I wanted to build our dream house. The opportunities to makes these happen were given to me in completely unexpected ways. I said thank you, took what was offered and put all my efforts and inspiration to create what I wanted. Yes, there have been ups and downs, but I love the roller coaster rides of life. The lows can take your breath away, but taking the risk can take you to incredible heights.
One of my all-time favorite books is Oh the Places You’ll Go by Dr. Seuss. It is a fantastic story about journeys in life, the highs, the lows, the risks, and the successes. It’s also just fun to read out loud. There are two passages I want to share.
First – don’t get stuck in “The Waiting Place…”
“Waiting for the fish to bite
or waiting for the wind to fly a kite
or waiting around for Friday night
or waiting, perhaps for Uncle Jake
or a pot to boil, or a Better Break
or a string of pearls, or a pair of pants
or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.”
Then once you start your journey
“You’ll get mixed up, of course,
As you already know.
You’ll get mixed up
With many strange birds as you go.
So be sure when you step.
Step with care and great tact
And remember that Life’s a Great Balancing Act.
Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.
And never mix up your right foot with your left.”
This year, with the help of the Abundance Cubed Program, I am starting to re-invent myself again, to create my masterpiece. I have written my vision story from a 2017 perspective. So much has happened in just the last 2 months, that I cannot fathom how amazing it will be by December. I’ll probably be sparkling by then!
Recommended Reading: Check out our new social media presence. We are now listed on Facebook, Eat Well Guide, Yelp, Trip Advisor, Local Harvest, and Real Time Farms . We’d love a review if you would like to help support us and get the word out.
Recommended Viewing: Our second YouTube Video is done! Check out our farmer Nydia as she demonstrates – How to Rinse Baby Greens
Did You Know that you can ask for whatever you want by simply writing it down, speaking it out loud, posting a picture or creating a vision board? Then be open for the possibilities that present themselves. In October of 2015 I sat on my front porch and said I want a guru. I wanted a guru for farming, business and spirituality. Two days later I was enrolled in a permaculture conference to learn from the experts how they are making their tiny farms profitable. Two weeks later I was selected to be in Abundance Cubed Program for entrepreneurs. I’m not sure when I will be getting my spiritual guru, but I know that when I am ready, my guru will find me!
Our February topic for A3 is Social Media. The book we are reading is “Likeable Social Media” by Dave Kerpen. Being a complete novice, I appreciated the appendix in the back that explained several social media sites and how they work. I have also been getting more savvy at delegating social media jobs to folks that love to do them.
One of our primary goals in 2016 to is to a better job of marketing Stone Coop Farm. Right now it is word of mouth and an occasional newspaper article. I recently did a presentation at The Brighton Garden Club and there were at least 60 folks there. Less than 5% of the group had even heard of Stone Coop Farm and we are only 5 miles from where they meet!
February Goals - MARKETING
1. Sell Out of All Our 2016 Shares and create a 2017 Waiting List. This challenge came out of our coaching session with Noam on February 9th. I hesitated to actually put this in writing in my blog – it’s a huge challenge – but why not be brave, and use this as a written confirmation of my vision. I need a strong marketing plan to sell these shares.
Working Shares (Deadline 2/28) Goal: 35 Sold Out
Market Shares (Deadline 6/30) Goal: 125 Sold: 28
Spring Shares (Deadline 4/1) Goal: 25 Sold: 5
Summer Shares (Deadline 6/1) Goal: 25 Sold: 6
Market Shares (Deadline 6/30) Goal: 125 Sold: 28
Fall Shares (Deadline 10/1) Goal: 25 Sold: 0
2017 Waiting List – Offer 2017 shares in August and start taking deposits immediately.
2. Marketing Strategy - Develop a Marketing Strategy to motivate our future members to buy their shares. I want to sell out of our shares and also sell out all the classes and events we offer. I will finish Likeable Social Media and generate action items for this by the end of February. Things that will be included will be: Increase Facebook likes, increase The Weekly Beet email contact list, generate engaging YouTube videos, get our events listed on local community calendars, and other items that I have yet to identify.
3. Embrace Social Media and Update our Internet Presence – Updated Facebook, Eat Well Guide & Yelp. Waiting to hear from Trip Advisor, Local Harvest, and Real Time Farms to update those sites.
4. Create Stone Coop Farm YouTube site – Done! Angie and her kids (one of our Working Share families) did an awesome job filming, editing and producing our first SCF How to Video! They also set up our YouTube account. Check it out! - How to Harvest Spinach. They will be coming each week so we can have a weekly video! Hurray!!! AND we will start showing these videos to our working share members for training. That will allow us to share a consistent training message with everyone that works here. The spinach video will be shared the first week of March when our 2016 Working Share members start. We have an iPad that we can take out to the fields and hoop houses to share the videos.
5. Create a New SCF Brochure – I need to decide when this will be used and for what purpose. Is a paper handout a good marketing tool these days? If there is value, then it needs to have a “Call to Action”.
6. Farmers Market Presence – We are in the process of creating a better image and presence at our farm store where we do our Wednesday markets and at Brighton’s Farmers Market that starts in May. We are tying in our brand, mission and tagline (Friendly Famers, Caring Consumers) into visual images and experiences that our clients will have when they come into contact with us. It has generated a lot of excitement with our staff and we are really looking forward to making it something special and memorable. We will also be incorporating these concepts into our events and classes too. The hand drawn pictures in this blog are banners created by Pomme Roi Creative to help us reflect our brand. We will be hanging these 6 foot tall beauties at both of our markets.
Recommended Reading and Viewing: It’s time to start dreaming and planning for that wonderful garden you will be growing this year. Seed Savers Exchange and Baker Creek Rare and Heirloom Seeds are both great companies that focus on saving rare and heirloom seeds. We like to support them and other small seed companies that provide 100% NON GMO seeds and that offer certified organic seeds as well. Here are links to the other seed companies we support: Johnny’s Select Seeds, High Mowing Organic Seeds, and Burpees.
If you would like to attend our Grow Your Own Garden Series here at Stone Coop Farm, the first class starts on March 12th. We will also be growing seedlings for purchase such as tomatoes, peppers, kale, chard, parsley, basil and others. We will be offering them starting in April. If you want to know when these plants are available, please sign up for our Weekly Beet email or check our website under the Weekly Beet in April when we will have all our plants listed.
Did You Know that for a seed variety to be considered an heirloom it has to meet certain criteria? According to Seed Savers Exchange “An heirloom variety is a plant variety that has a history of being passed down within a family or community, similar to the generational sharing of heirloom jewelry or furniture.
An heirloom variety must be open-pollinated, but not all open-pollinated plants are heirlooms. While some companies create heirloom labels based on dates (such as a variety that is more than 50 years old), Seed Savers Exchange identifies heirlooms by verifying and documenting the generational history of preserving and passing on the seed.”
We did it! We have finally written our tag line and mission for the farm. It was a long thoughtful process and a lot of people contributed. In fact, we had a working share meeting last weekend to get everyone up to speed on what’s going on at the farm so we decided to do a brainstorming session with them. It blows my mind how many fantastic people are part of Stone Coop Farm! Our working share members had some wonderful ideas and I left the meeting FULL of energy and enthusiasm. And it was not just a wow I feel great this afternoon, it was a HOLY COW I am still riding high on their positive energy a whole week later! A huge thanks goes to all of you that contributed.
Friendly Farmers, Caring Consumers
At Stone Coop Farm we are friends with the earth and all its inhabitants down to the microorganisms in our soil. We are dedicated to being better stewards of the land and sharing our knowledge with others. Stone Coop Farm is a neighborhood farm supported by folks that care about the long term health of our planet and future generations.
Here’s my update on my January Goals:
Recommended Viewing: This manager saw the wonderful abilities this young man had to offer and encouraged him to be an active member of his team. Watch the Dancing Barista.
Did You Know that chickens tuck their heads between the wings to stay warm?
"Find something you love to do and you'll never have to work a day in your life."
- Harvey Mackay
A dear friend of mine died suddenly this Monday. He was only 58 and he left a wife and two kids in college. It has been hard to focus this week. I have been thinking about him, his family, and how would I be dealing with this tragic scenario if it happened to me or my husband. I don’t want to think that something this sudden and unexpected has influenced what I do, but it has. It is a sad reminder to focus on what is important to me – my family. How can I spend more time with them? How many hugs are too many? What do I do to show and remind them how important they are too me? How can I delegate more so I am less busy and stressed out? How can I accomplish all I need to do with the farm and have time to play and have fun? I know it is possible. I just need to define what is critical, what is not. What do I have to do myself, and what can someone else do?
That leads me to the A3 February topic – Social Media. I understand its importance, but it feels like just another task. I have had a Facebook page for 7 years, but I just learned how to use it this January. The farm has had an Instagram account for 6 months but I have done less than 10 posts. I want us to have a Stone Coop Farm YouTube account so we can post “How To” videos, but I know nothing about how to do this. I am excited to learn new things, but social media has never been on the top of my list. OK it is time to get off the gravel road alongside the information highway!
Luckily for me I have incredible working share folks who help with all aspects of the farm. One of my working share members, Angie, is a fitness coach and has a great blog and Facebook page. She shared her link for making kale salad and after watching it I asked her if she would be willing to spend her working share time helping us set up our Stone Coop Farm YouTube account. She mentioned it to her kids (they are her experts and help her with her videos) and they wanted to know how soon can they start? Woo-hoo! I can now learn about how to do this and they want to do a couple videos a month!
We intend to also use these videos to help show our working share folks how to do a job. This is especially good news because that means everyone is taught how to do it the same way, I don’t have to be the one to explain it to 50 people, and I have more time to do other things. SWEET! First video is scheduled for February 12th. The other thing is that it ties in with our desire to be a teaching farm and international resource for growing food.
Recommended Reading and Viewing: How to make a Kale Salad by our member Angie (videoed and produced with her kids). It’s dated February 1, 2016.
Did you know that eating seasonally is the best way to taste and experience fresh produce? It also has its maximum nutritional value within hours of harvest. No tomato ever tastes better than one vine ripened in the summer. Sweet corn eaten raw within minutes of harvesting will never be sweeter. Here’s a quick guide for our northern climates on what is in season. So when you go to the grocery store or farmer’s market consider buying what is in season for the best taste and highest nutritional value.